In an effort to stop the spread of bed bugs, the state of California established a new bed bug law in July of 2017. The law was created to prevent bed bug-related injuries and illnesses in residents of hotels and rental homes, putting the liability on the operators of these establishments. Since then, bed bug lawsuits have been on the rise.
One of the most notable bed bug lawsuits was filed by a Southern California family that resulted in a win of $1.6 million in damages. While every case won’t receive such a hefty outcome, it is important for you to understand your rights as a tenant if you experience a bed bug infestation while renting.
Continue reading this article to find out everything you need to know about these pesticides and the laws that surround them.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, wingless parasites. Although they are visible to the naked eye, they are often difficult to find and identify because of their small size.
Adult bed bugs only grow to be about .25 inches long while their babies are roughly the size of a poppy seed. Regarding color, bed bugs range from white to light tan, deep brown, and burnt orange.
Their shape and or color can also change when the bugs are feeding.
There are two main species of bed bugs that prefer to feed on human blood. They often choose habitats in soft, dark areas like mattresses, couches, closets, and dresses where clothing is stored.
It is definitely possible to find bed bugs in private homes. However, they are most common in areas with multiple residents such as hotels, cruise ships, apartment buildings, shelters, dormitories, and barracks.
Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites
It is very common for a person to not know they have bed bugs in their home until they notice they’ve been bitten while asleep. One common trait about a bed bug’s feeding cycle is that they feed at night and usually while you are asleep.
Also keep in mind that you may see the bites right away, but it can also take up to two weeks for them to become visible. So, if a bite looks brand new, there’s a chance that it really isn’t.
Bed bug bites are usually small red bumps. They might be scattered around the body, but they often occur in clusters. The clusters are referred to as the breakfast, lunch, and dinner sign.
You may not have any symptoms after a bite, but it is also possible that you will. For instance, some people feel nauseous, get scars or skin infections.
Additionally, asthmatic reactions to the bugs are rare but possible.
How to Find Bed Bugs
With that said, you should carefully examine all of the fabrics on your bed. It’s common to find the bugs or their eggs mixed in with sheets, blankets, box springs, headboards, pillowcases, pillows, and within the mattress itself.
You will know if you have bed bugs if you find dark brown or rust colored stains. Those are most likely bed bug droppings. And if there is a large number of bed bugs in the area, you may smell a scent similar to coriander.
If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs in areas other than your bed. Other common locations are cracks and gaps behind wall outlets, floor molding, window and door molding and where carpet edges meet the wall.
What Causes A Bed Bug Infestations?
Bed bugs are good at adapting to their environments, so there are several ways an infestation can happen.
They often travel as stowaways on luggage, bedding, and furniture. Because of this, you should be extra careful when you purchase second-hand furniture and clothing items. And make it a general rule of thumb to never purchase used mattresses or bedding.
When making these kinds of purchases, you should always do a careful inspection for the signs of bed bugs listed above.
The presence of bed bugs doesn’t mean that the place they’re in is dirty. For instance, they’ve been known to live in clean, vacant homes where there are no residents. These parasites can live over two months without eating.
California’s Bed Bug Laws
As of July last year, California’s latest bed bug law took effect. The law that was designed to help prevent the spreading of bed bugs throughout the state now holds landlords responsible for the bed bugs in their residences.
Landlords are required to provide tenants with documents that state whether bed bugs are on the premises. The law says that the landlords should inform tenants if there is any suspicion of the bugs on the property too.
Additionally, California’s bed bug law indicates that landlords are not allowed to show or rent a unit that has an active infestation. The law also prohibits landlords from punishing tenants who report infestations.
Another part of this law is that landlords are not required to inspect their properties for bed bugs in the absence of a complaint from a tenant. However, they do have to notify tenants within two days if the bugs are found by a pest inspector.
Lastly, tenants have to cooperate with detection and treatment.
Filing Bed Bug Lawsuits in California
With the new bed bug law, there is, of course, the possibility of bed bug lawsuits in the state of California. Whether you are living in a rented property or staying at a hotel, you are allowed to sue the landlord or hotel owner.
The type of lawsuit that’s filed is called a premises liability lawsuit. Premises liability laws hold property owners responsible for keeping their properties in safe conditions.
If you have been bitten by bed bugs, bed bug lawsuits can cover damages such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Medical bills and injuries
In order to recover damages from your landlord or the hotel you stayed in, you will need to prove a couple of things. They include that the owner of the property knew about the infestation and that the owner didn’t take the steps that were required to prevent the infestation.
Additionally, bed bug lawsuits can result in a court order for the operator of the infested property to exterminate the bugs.
Have You Had a Recent Bed Bug Experience?
You and your family shouldn’t have to be exposed to the discomfort and possible illnesses that bed bugs can cause. And if you think a recent infestation was the result of your landlord’s negligence, you deserve to have an excellent legal team fighting in your corner.
Contact us for a consultation and see why we have a 98.7% case success rate.